Gratitude – Always More Than a Platitude!

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Here in the United States, we’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving next week. We may not all have a bountiful harvest to celebrate this year (perhaps some do), but we have a lot of other things to be thankful for.

In case you missed it, I’ve written over the years about how important it is to show gratitude not only for your employees and customers but also for those important people in your life who’ve helped you get to where you are today, at this time of the year – and, quite frankly, always.

Outside of this holiday, it’s important for us to pause to think about what we’re thankful for, every day. I take time at the end of the day to reflect on the day and to make a mental note of who and what I appreciate. It’s a great habit to get into – and it falls in line with the Zig Ziglar quote at the end of this post.

For me, on a personal basis, I am grateful for my kids, my parents, and my friends. I also appreciate the staff and the community of customer experience professionals who make up the Customer Experience Professionals Association. And, professionally, I’m thankful for my mentors early in my career, my clients, my readers and followers, and the many people I’ve met and developed relationships with over the years.  

Among those relationships are the four fabulous ladies with whom I’m honored to share this post. We recently talked about the things that, as we think back over our careers in CX, we are all grateful for. Here’s what they had to say.

Jeannie Walters, CCXP – CEO, Experience Investigators

The Customer Experience community is one full of generosity and support. I’m grateful to look back and think of the many, many people who serve as mentors and generously offer ideas, insights, and inspiration. After all, nobody has the perfect CX playbook. CX leaders often have to figure out a new or better way of doing things with limited resources, skeptical leaders, and inadequate support. I’m grateful for all the times I’ve asked, “How did you handle this?” and received wisdom to help with the common goal of providing great experiences for customers. I’m very grateful for the community of CX professionals who have become friends and colleagues, because we make each other better. By supporting and inspiring one another, we support and inspire our customers. I call that a win/win! Thank you to all the CX pros I have learned from and gained support from through the first two decades of my career. I can’t wait to see what’s next!

Ingrid Lindberg – Founder and CEO, Chief Customer

There are so many things that, as I look back over my 30 years of working full time, I’m grateful for. Opportunities people have given me, help I’ve received when I’ve needed it, faith that I’m the right person for a job  – all these things are things that I’m grateful for.

As I reflected on the question of what I am most grateful for, I kept coming back to the story of a man that I worked with who really, in his own way, was integral to one of my big success stories.

His name was Jeff Capelle.

He was a middle management leader and a 25-year veteran of Cigna. He was tied into the undercurrent of how things got done. He was a part of the group of people that I lovingly referred to as “the middle management mafia.” We all know the ones, the people who keep companies running. The people who have figured out how to navigate the unseen rules and get things done by going around them.

I came into Cigna and had no idea about these rules. I didn’t know they existed, and I didn’t know that they would be HUGE blockers for the work I had been hired to do.

One day, Jeff came into my office and asked me to grab a drink with him. We met at a bar in downtown Hartford and shared our first Friday martini. He explained the inner workings of the place to me. He told me that he wanted to help me – because he believed the company needed to change and I had the ideas that could change it.

I used to tease him that he wanted to help me because he knew it would ensure his pension would be funded. He wanted to help because he loved the company so much.

Jeff was one of the many unsung heroes of the Cigna transformation. He got the other veterans on board. He made it easier for me to get through processes. He garnered support on my behalf. And he became a very dear friend who I shared many martinis with on Fridays. He taught me so much about who was important in an organization – that it wasn’t just the executive team who makes things happen. And for that, I am forever grateful.

Stephanie Thum, CCXP – Founding Principal, Practical CX

Creativity, communication, critical thinking, and perseverance are so important in this profession. So, I am grateful to the mentors, professors, clients, and collaborators who share that space, or have shared that space, with me. When I was a teenager, my first serious job was working at the local radio station. I hosted music programs, news programs, sports, and talk shows. My boss showed me the basics and then let me write, fuse sounds, interview news subjects, organize, and deliver on-air programs to my heart’s content. I spent a lot of nights in the recording studio at that radio station creating content for no other reason than it was fun! Later, another boss gave me an opportunity to step up and try something new. That “something new” turned out to be the CX bug that bit me (and keeps biting me!). And recently, a client said, “I have something bigger in mind for you. You need to think bigger.” These are the people I am grateful for career-wise. They give you the knowledge, a chance, encouragement, and opportunity. They are the people every customer experience professional needs in their corner no matter if you’re brand new to the field or 20+ years in.

Karyn Furstman, CCXP – VP, Head of CX Strategy and Solutions, Rational, a Wipro Company

When I think back over my career, there are so many opportunities and people to be thankful for.

I’m incredibly grateful to have “this” career. Beginning with my work at advertising agencies after college, then, in the mid-nineties, moving on to financial services companies, taking on marketing, communications, product, branding, and a CRM leadership role, every role I had focused on the customer in one way or another. While working for a large bank, I was asked to step out of my role running a product group to become the first Chief Customer Officer on the executive leadership team. Building on my “relentless passion” for the customer, I was excited to embark on this new endeavor. I didn’t know where to start or what CX really meant, as it was just beginning to form as a discipline. I soon realized that I’d found my dream career.

As I began my second Chief Customer Officer role in a new industry, I was asked to join the inaugural board of the CXPA, the only association dedicated to the success of CX professionals. Now 10 years later, as I look back at all I have learned being part of the CXPA, I’m grateful for the founding vision of Bruce Temkin and Jeanne Bliss.

Finally, and most important, I’m grateful to my parents for instilling customer-focused values at an early age. As small business owners for many years (dad a pharmacy owner and mom an art gallery owner), I saw first-hand, as I worked after school or on weekends, how they lived by the golden rule of “take care of your customers and the rest will follow.” The relationships they formed kept their customers coming back for many years, and their businesses grew from the referrals of those who raved about the personalized service they received. I learned the true value and heart of Customer Experience.

Thanks, mom and dad.

Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for. –Zig Ziglar

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